Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/08/23

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Was clueless: Now good moments
From: "Gary Todoroff" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 21:36:27 -0700

>Ted Grant wrote:
>> Any good Leica moments anyone?

Today I presented a slide program of Leica photos to 150 people at my local
Eureka Rotary Club. It was about my experiences with the US Coast Guard
doing aerial photography, and was a kind of "dress rehearsal" for the
program I'll be doing at the LHSA convention in Chicago October 22.

Leica will be sending me two new RT projectors on loan to LHSA, which I was
hoping to use today. They hadn't arrived yet, so I used my good ol' Kodak
Medalist projectors with the very bright and sharp Pro-Tamron f2.8/70-170
lenses, along with a Gemini 2000 programmer/dissolve unit.

From over 100 hours flying time in Dolphin HH65A helicopters and a Cessna
182, I condensed it into a 160 slide story about USCG bases and crews, the
aerial photo accuracy assessment project (using Hasselblad ELM with 70mm
mags), lots of landscapes from the air, plus a rendezvous with the USCG
training tall-ship "Eagle", 60 miles out to sea. Of course, with most of the
photos taken from Cape Mendocino  (the western-most "elbow" of California)
and north, this was the *real* northern California. What incredibly
beautiful country!

I used mostly an M6 and M3, and put a CL to good use a few times, too. Out
the open door of the Dolphin, I was able to use a 21mm Elmarit quite often,
especially to capture some stunning river and ocean scenes at the low
altitudes the Coast Guard crews often fly. There was always something
stunning to photograph between (and sometimes even during) the official
transect aerial photos, especially since we were usually no higher than
1500' altitude and often down to just 100-200 feet. But I have never had a
worse "hit ratio" regarding exposure and focus. I learned to tape my lenses
on infinity and to judge light by eye more accurately than by meter in the
air. I shot all on Velvia, which is my "Northcoast" film for capturing the
beautiful greens and blues of forests and water. I learned why the area east
of Eureka was called simply "The Rivers" by the original Hupa and Yurok
tribes. We were always flying over majestic rivers like the Klamath,
Trinity, Eel and Mad, with hundreds of tributaries feeding them. I wish
Leica had a GPS recording system for the M6 - now I need to find an old
tracker somewhere to tell me where some of the pictures were taken!

As a positive follow-up to the Rotary slide program, one of the local TV
station managers wants to meet to discuss doing an aerial photo of the area
for a large backdrop for the news set. Apparently for such a big
enlargement, they want a 4x5 negative. I think my old Graphic View could be
a bit cumbersome in the air! My Speed Graphic may not be a whole lot better.
But I did just get a Graphlex/Folmer K-20 W.W.II aerial camera that takes
the obsolete 5 1/4 roll film - I just need to figure out if it will use the
current five inch film. Or maybe I can get them to go for medium format
using the Hasselblad?

So there you go, Ted - a story all brought about because of Leicas prompting
me to do my best since over 30 years ago. Is it legal to be having this much

Gary Todoroff
Tree LUGger